Japanese Cuisine



Japanese Cuisine in the news

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- Japanes Cuisine

Here is an article on Japanese Cuisine.

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of the Cuisine series
Preparation techniques and cooking items
Techniques - Utensils
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Ingredients and types of Japanes Cuisine food

Vegetarian cuisine
Herbs and Spices
Sauces - Soups - Desserts
Cheese - Pasta - Bread - Tea
Other Japanees Cuisine ingredients

Regional Japnese Cuisine cuisines
Asia - Europe - Caribbean
South Asian - Jappanese Cuisine Latin America
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Famous chefs - Kitchens - Meals
Wikibooks: Cookbook

There are many views as Japannese Cuisine to what defines Japanese cuisine, as the everyday food of the Japanese people have diversified immensely over the past century or so. In Japanee Cuisine Japan, the term "Japanese cuisine" (nihon ryori or Apanese Cuisine washoku) refers to traditional-style Japanese food, similar to what already existed before the end Japaese Cuisine of national seclusion in 1868. In a broader sense of the word, it could also include foods Japamese Cuisine whose ingredients or Japanesee Cuisine cooking methods were subsequently introduced from abroad, but which have been developed by Japanese who made them their own.

Food in Japan Japnaese Cuisine is generally of a Jpanese Cuisine very high quality and most Japanese people tend to be quite well informed diners. Local, regional and seasonal dishes are invariably a key tourist attraction for the domestic traveller.

Japanese cuisine is known for its emphasis on seasonality of food, quality of ingredients and presentation.


  • 1 Food unique to the country
  • 2 Traditional Japanese table settings
  • 3 Eating habits
  • 4 Japanese ingredients
  • 5 Japanese flavorings
  • 6 Common Japanese staple foods (Shushoku)
    • 6.1 Rice (gohanmono)
      • 6.1.1 Congee
      • 6.1.2 Donburi
      • 6.1.3 Sushi
      • 6.1.4 Sake
    • 6.2 Noodles (men-rui)
    • 6.3 Bread (pan)
  • 7 Common Japanese main and side dishes (okazu)
    • 7.1 Deep-fried dishes (agemono)
    • 7.2 Grilled and pan-fried dishes (yakimono)
    • 7.3 Nabemono (one pot "steamboat" cooking)
    • 7.4 Nimono (stewed dishes)
    • 7.5 Itamemono (stir-fried dishes)
    • 7.6 Sashimi
    • 7.7 Soups (suimono and shirumono)
    • 7.8 Pickled or salted foods
    • 7.9 Miscellaneous
    • 7.10 Chinmi
  • 8 Regional Specialities
  • 9 Dishes for special occasions
  • 10 Sweets and snacks (okashi, oyatsu)
    • 10.1 Japanese-style sweets (wagashi)
    • 10.2 Old-fashioned Japanese-style sweets (dagashi)
    • 10.3 Western-style sweets (yōgashi)
    • 10.4 Other snacks
  • 11 Tea and other drinks
    • 11.1 Tea and non-alcoholic beverages
      • 11.1.1 Soft drinks
    • 11.2 Alcoholic beverages
  • 12 Imported and adapted foods
    • 12.1 Foods imported from Portugal in the 16th Century
    • 12.2 Yōshoku
    • 12.3 Other homegrown cuisine of foreign origin
    • 12.4 Foreign food in Japan
    • 12.5 Fusion foods
  • 13 Influence of Japanese food outside Japan
  • 14 References

Food unique to the country

Ichijū-issai style: rice, soup, and an okazu
One course of a multi-course Kaiseki meal, showing a careful arrangement of the foods

Japanese cuisine is based on a concept of combining a bland carbohydrate staple food (shushoku), typically rice or noodles, with a soup and okazu - dishes made from fish, meat, vegetable, tofu and the like, designed to add flavour to the staple food. These are typically flavoured with dashi, miso, and soy sauce, and traditionally tend to be low in fat and high in salt.

A standard Japanese meal generally consists of several different okazu accompanying a bowl of cooked white Japanese rice (gohan), a bowl of soup and some tsukemono (pickles). The most standard of meals consist of three okazu and is termed ichijū-sansai (一汁三菜; "one soup, three sides"). Different cooking techniques are applied to each of the three okazu; they may be raw (sashimi), grilled, simmered (sometimes called boiled), steamed, deep fried, vinegared, or dressed. This Japanese view of a meal is reflected in the organization of Japanese cookbooks, organized into chapters according to cooking techniques as opposed to particular ingredients (e.g. meat, seafood). There may also be chapters devoted to soups, sushi, rice, noodles, and sweets.

Since Japan is an island nation, its people consume much seafood. Meat-eating has been rare until fairly recently due to restrictions placed upon it by Buddhism. However, purely vegetarian food is rare since even vegetable dishes are flavoured with the ubiquitous dashi stock, usually made with katsuobushi (skipjack tuna flakes). An exception is shojin ryori, vegetarian dishes developed by Buddhist monks.

Noodles, originating from China, have become an essential part of Japanese cuisine, usually (but not always) as an alternative to a rice-based meal. Soba (thin, grayish-brown noodles containing buckwheat flour) and udon (thick wheat noodles) are the main traditional noodles and are served hot or cold with soy-dashi flavourings. Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat stock broth known as ramen have become extremely popular over the last century.

Traditional Japanese table settings

The traditional Japanese table setting has varied considerably over the centuries, depending primarily on the type of table common during a given era. Before the 19th century, small individual box tables (hakozen, 箱膳) or flat floor trays were set before each diner. Larger low tables (chabudai, ちゃぶ台) that accommodated entire families were becoming popular by the beginning of the 20th century, but these gave way to western style dining tables and chairs by the end of the 20th century.

Traditionally, the rice bowl is placed on the left and the soup bowl on the right. Behind these, each okazu is served on its own individual plate. Based on the standard three okazu formula, behind the rice and soup are three flat plates to hold the three okazu; one to far back left , one at far back right, and one in the center. Pickled vegetables are often served on the side but are not counted as part of the three okazu.

Chopsticks are generally placed at the very front of the tray near the diner with pointed ends facing left and supported by a chopstick rest, or hashioki (箸置き).

Eating habits

A traditional breakfast usually consist of a bowl of rice, miso soup, pickles and a grilled fish. Additional dishes may include nori, raw egg, or natto in some areas. Today, many people opt for a western-style breakfast consisting of fried egg, ham, bread and coffee, partly for convenience; salad is often served alongside.

Lunch is often an informal affair, typically consisting of a bowl of noodles or a donburi (a big bowl of rice with toppings). Other common lunch items are teishoku (a cheap set meal of rice, soup, pickles and an okazu, and Japanese curry-rice, popular in restaurants and canteens).

The evening meal is usually the most important and substantial meal of the day.

A lot of drinking goes on in Japan after dark, and food is almost always served as an accompaniment to drinks, especially in pub-restaurants known as izakaya. Food served with alcohol is known as sakana(肴, homophone with 魚, the Japanese word for "fish"). With the exception of sushi, rice is not usually consumed at the same time as alcohol; this is because traditionally, sake, brewed from rice, was considered a substitute for rice. Many people would eat rice, often in the form of ochazuke (rice-soup), only at the end to round up the drinking session.

Japanese ingredients

  • Rice
    • Short or medium grain white rice
    • Mochi rice (glutinous rice)
  • Beans:
    • adzuki
    • soy
  • Eggs:
    • chicken
    • quail
  • Flour:
    • Katakuri flour
    • kudzu flour
    • rice powder
    • soba flour
    • wheat flour
  • Fruits:
    • chestnut
    • citrus fruits:
      • amanatsu
      • daidai
      • iyokan
      • kabosu
      • kumquat
      • mikan
      • natsumikan
      • sudachi
      • yuzu
    • loquat
    • nashi pear
    • persimmon
  • Fu (wheat gluten)
  • Meats:
    • beef
    • chicken
    • horse
    • pork
    • sometimes as minchi (minced meat)
  • Mushrooms:
    • enokitake
    • eringi
    • matsutake
    • maitake
    • nameko
    • hiratake
    • shiitake
    • shimeji
  • Noodles:
    • soba
    • somen
    • ramen
    • udon
  • Seafood: Every type of seafood imaginable features in Japanese cuisine. Only the most common are in the list below. Includes freshwater varieties.
    • Finned fish:
      • skipjack tuna (katsuo)
      • pacific saury (sanma)
      • flounder (karei / hirame)
      • Japanese amberjack (buri / hamachi)
      • mackerel (saba)
      • horse mackerel (aji)
      • salmon (sake)
      • tuna (maguro)
      • sea bream (tai)
      • pufferfish (fugu)
      • sardine (iwashi)
      • Japanese eel (unagi)
      • ayu
    • Shellfish:
      • prawn, shrimp (ebi)
      • squid, cuttlefish (ika)
      • octopus (tako)
      • crab (kani), in particular the snow crab (zuwaigani), horsehair crab (kegani), king crab (tarabagani) and horse crab (gazami)
      • sea urchin (uni)
      • scallop (hotate-gai)
      • littleneck clam (asari)
      • freshwater clam (shijimi)
      • oyster (kaki)
      • spiny lobster (ise-ebi)
      • horned turban (sazae)
    • roe
      • salmon roe (ikura)
      • herring roe (kazunoko)
      • pollock roe (tarako)
      • flying fish roe (tobiko)
    • Processed seafood:
      • chikuwa
      • kamaboko
      • niboshi
      • surimi
      • Satsuma age
    • Seaweed (see Category:Sea vegetables):
      • hijiki
      • konbu
      • nori
      • wakame, etc.
  • Soy products (see also Category:Tofu):
    • Edamame
    • Miso
    • Soy sauce (light, dark, tamari)
    • Tofu
      • soft: kinugoshi-dōfu (silken), oboro-dōfu, kumidashi-dōfu
      • firm: momen-dōfu (cotton)
      • freeze-dried: kōyadōfu
      • fried: aburage, agedōfu, atsuage, ganmodoki
      • residue: Okara
      • Soy milk, Yuba
  • Vegetables:
    • cucumber
    • daikon
    • eggplant
    • fuki (a type of butterbur)
    • gobo (greater burdock)
    • kaiware (radish sprouts)
    • Konnyaku (shirataki)
    • moyashi (mung or soybean sprouts)
    • negi (Welsh onion)
    • nira (Chinese chives)
    • renkon (lotus root)
    • Sansai (wild vegetables)
    • spinach
    • sweet potato
    • takenoko (bamboo shoots)
    • Tsukemono (pickled vegetables)

See also Category:Japanese ingredients.

Japanese flavorings

It is not generally thought possible to make authentic Japanese food without shōyu (soy sauce), miso and dashi.

  • Kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (flakes of cured skipjack tuna, sometimes referred to as bonito) and niboshi (dried baby sardines) are often used to make dashi stock.
  • Negi (welsh onion), onions, garlic, nira (Chinese chives), rakkyō (a type of scallion).
  • Sesame seeds, sesame oil, sesame salt (gomashio), furikake, walnuts or peanuts to dress.
  • Shōyu (soy sauce), dashi, mirin, sugar, rice vinegar, miso, sake.
  • Wasabi (and imitation wasabi from horseradish), karashi (hot mustard), red pepper, ginger, shiso (perilla or beefsteak plant) leaves, sansho, citrus peel, and honeywort (called mitsuba).

Less traditional, but widely used ingredients include:

  • Monosodium glutamate, which is often used by chefs and food companies as a cheap flavor enhancer. It may be used as a substitute for kombu, which is a traditional source of free glutamate
  • Japanese-style worcester sauce, often known as simply sosu ("sauce"), thicker and fruitier than the original, is commonly used as a table condiment for okonomiyaki, tonkatsu, korokke and the like.
  • Japanese mayonnaise is used with salads, okonomiyaki, yaki soba and sometimes mixed with wasabi or soy sauce.

Common Japanese staple foods (Shushoku)

Tamago kake gohan (left), Tsukemono and Miso soup

Rice (gohanmono)

Rice served in Japan are of the short grain Japonica variety. In a traditional Japanese setting (e.g. served in a bowl) it is known as gohan or meshi (generally only males say meshi). In western-influenced dishes, where rice is often served on the plate (such as curries) it is called raisu (after the English word "rice".)

  • Gohan or Meshi: plainly cooked white rice. It is such a staple that the terms gohan and meshi are also used to refer meals in general, such as Asa gohan/meshi (breakfast), Hiru gohan/meshi (lunch), and Ban gohan/meshi (dinner). Some alternatives are:
  • Genmai gohan: white rice cooked with brown rice
  • Okowa: cooked glutinous rice
  • Mugi gohan/meshi: white rice cooked with barley
  • Soy-flavored raw egg (Tamago kake gohan), nori, and furikake are popular condiments in Japanese breakfast
  • Ochazuke: hot green tea or dashi poured over cooked white rice, often with various savoury ingredients
  • Onigiri: balls of rice with a filling in the middle. Japanese equivalent of sandwiches.
  • Takikomi gohan: Japanese-style pilaf cooked with various ingredients and flavored with soy, dashi, etc.
  • Kamameshi: rice topped with vegetables and chicken or seafood, then baked in an individual-sized pot
  • Sekihan: red rice. white rice cooked with adzuki beans to Glutinous rice
  • Japanese curry: Introduced from UK in the late 19th century, "curry rice" (karē raisu カレーライス) is now one of the most popular dishes in Japan. Not as spicy as its Indian counterpart, and eaten with a spoon.
  • Hayashi rice: thick beef stew on rice; origin of the name is unknown
  • Omurice (Omu-raisu オムライス): omelette filled with fried rice, apparently originating from Tokyo
  • Mochi: glutinous rice cake


  • Kayu or Okayu: rice congee (porridge), sometimes egg dropped and usually served to infants and persons in ill as easily digestible meals
  • Zosui (Zōsui) or Ojiya: a soup containing rice stewed in stock, often with egg, meat, seafood, vegetables or mushroom, and flavoured with miso or soy. Known as juushii in Okinawa. Some similarity to risotto and Kayu though Zosui uses cooked rice


A one-bowl lunchtime dish, consisting of a donburi (big bowl) full of hot steamed rice with various savory toppings:

  • Katsudon: donburi topped with deep-fried breaded cutlet of pork (tonkatsudon), chicken (chickendon)
  • Tekkadon: donburi topped with tuna sashimi
  • Oyakodon (Parent and Child): donburi topped with chicken and egg (or sometimes salmon and salmon roe)
  • Gyūdon: donburi topped with seasoned beef
  • Tendon: donburi topped with tempura (battered shrimp and vegetables).
  • Unadon: donburi topped with broiled eel with vegetables.


Sushi is vinegared rice topped or mixed with various fresh ingredients, usually fish or seafood.

  • Nigiri-zushi: This is sushi with the ingredients on top of a block of rice.
  • Maki-zushi: Translated as "roll sushi", this is where rice and seafood or other ingredients are placed on a sheet of seaweed (nori) and rolled into a cylindrical shape on a bamboo mat and then cut into smaller pieces.
  • Temaki: Basically the same as makizushi, except that the nori is rolled into a cone-shape with the ingredients placed inside. Sometimes referred to as a "hand-roll".
  • Chirashi: Translated as "scattered", chirashi involves fresh sea food, vegetables or other ingredients being placed on top of sushi rice in a bowl or dish.


Sake is an alcoholic beverage, fermented from rice, that is very common in Japan.

Noodles (men-rui)

Noodles often take the place of rice in a meal. However, the Japanese appetite for rice is so strong that many restaurants even serve noodles-rice combination sets.

  • Traditional Japanese noodles are usually served chilled with a dipping sauce, or in a hot soy-dashi broth.
    • Soba: thin brown buckwheat noodles. Also known as Nihon-soba ("Japanese soba"). In Okinawa, soba likely refers to Okinawa soba (see below).
    • Udon: thick wheat noodle served with various toppings, usually in a hot soy-dashi broth, or sometimes in a Japanese curry soup.
    • Somen: thin wheat noodles served chilled with a dipping sauce. Hot Somen is called Nyumen.
  • Chinese-influenced noodles are served in a meat or chicken broth and have only appeared in the last 100 years or so.
    • Ramen: thin light yellow noodle served in hot chicken or pork broth with various toppings; of Chinese origin, it is a popular and common item in Japan. Also known as Shina-soba or Chuka-soba (both mean "Chinese soba")
    • Champon: yellow noodles of medium thickness served with a great variety of seafood and vegetable toppings in a hot chicken broth which originated in Nagasaki as a cheap food for students
  • Okinawa soba: a thick wheat-flour noodle served in Okinawa, often served in a hot broth with sōki, steamed pork. Akin to a cross between udon and ramen.
  • Yaki soba: Fried Chinese noodles
  • Yaki udon: Fried udon noodles

Bread (pan)

Bread (the word "pan" is derived from the Portuguese pão) is not native to Japan and is not considered traditional Japanese food, but since its introduction in the 19th century it has become common.

  • Curry bread (karē pan): deep fried bread filled with Japanese curry sauce.
  • Anpan: sweet bun filled with red bean paste.
  • Yakisoba-pan: bread roll sandwich with yakisoba (fried noodles and red pickled ginger) filling.
  • Katsu-sando: sandwich with tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) filling.

Common Japanese main and side dishes (okazu)

Deep-fried dishes (agemono)

Ebi tempura.
  • Kara-age: bite-sized pieces of chicken (sometimes fish) floured and deep fried. Common izakaya food, also often available in convenience stores.
  • Korokke (croquette): breaded and deep-fried patties, containing either mashed potato or white sauce mixed with minced meat, vegetables or seafood. Popular everyday food.
  • Kushiage: skewered meat, vegetables or seafood, breaded and deep fried.
  • Tempura: deep-fried vegetables or seafood in a light, distinctive batter.
  • Tonkatsu: deep-fried breaded cutlet of pork (chicken versions are called chicken katsu).

Grilled and pan-fried dishes (yakimono)

  • Genghis Khan barbecue: barbecued lamb or mutton, with various seafoods and vegetables.
  • Gyoza: Chinese ravioli-dumplings (potstickers), usually filled with pork and vegetables and pan-fried.
  • Kushiyaki: skewers of meat and vegetables.
  • Okonomiyaki: savory pancakes with various meat and vegetable ingredients, flavoured with the likes of Worcestershire sauce or mayonnaise(see also Okonomiyaki restaurants).
  • Takoyaki: a spherical, fried dumpling of batter with a piece of octopus inside. Popular street snack.
  • Teriyaki: grilled, broiled, or pan-fried meat, fish, chicken or vegetables glazed with a sweetened soy sauce.
  • Unagi, including Kabayaki: grilled and flavored eel.
  • Yakiniku: various bite-sized meat and offal (most often beef) barbecued, usually at the table. Including Korean bulgogi.
  • Yakitori: barbecued chicken skewers, usually served with beer.
  • Yakizakana: flame-grilled fish, often served with grated daikon. One of the most common dishes served at home.

Nabemono (one pot "steamboat" cooking)

Nabemono includes:

  • Oden: surimi, boiled eggs, vegetables, etc. simmered in a dashi stock. Common wintertime food and often available in convenience stores.
  • Motsunabe: beef offal, Chinese cabbage and various vegetables cooked in a light soup base.
  • Shabu-shabu: hot pot with thinly sliced beef, vegetables, and tofu, cooked in a thin stock at the table and dipped in a soy or sesame-based dip before eating.
  • Sukiyaki: thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in a mixture of soy sauce, dashi, sugar, and sake. Participants cook at the table then dip food into their individual bowls of raw egg before eating it.
  • Tecchiri: hot pot with blowfish and vegetables, a specialty of Osaka.

Nimono (stewed dishes)

  • Kakuni: chunks of pork belly stewed in soy, mirin and sake with large pieces of daikon and whole boiled eggs. The Okinawan variation, using awamori, soy sauce and miso, is known as rafuti.
  • Nikujaga: beef and potato stew, flavoured with sweet soy
  • Nizakana: fish poached in sweet soy
  • sōki: Okinawan dish of pork stewed with bone

Itamemono (stir-fried dishes)

Stir-frying is not a native method of cooking in Japan, however mock-Chinese stir fries such as yasai itame (stir fried vegetables) have been a staple in homes and canteens across Japan since the 1950s. Home grown stir fries include:

  • Chanpurū: A stir-fry from Okinawa, of vegetables, tofu, meat or seafood and sometimes egg. Many varieties, the most famous being gōyā chanpurū.
  • Kinpira gobo: Thin sticks of greater burdock (gobo) and other root vegetables stir-fried and braised in sweetened soy.


Sashimi is raw, thinly sliced foods served with a dipping sauce and simple garnishes; usually fish or shellfish served with soy sauce and wasabi. Less common variations include:

  • Basashi: sliced horse meat, sometimes called sakura, is a regional speciality in certain areas such as Shinshu (Nagano, Gifu and Toyama prefectures) and Kumamoto. [1].
  • Fugu: sliced poisonous pufferfish (sometimes lethal), a uniquely Japanese specialty. The chef responsible for preparing it must be licensed.
  • Ikizukuri: live sashimi
  • Rebasashi: usually liver of calf, completely raw (rare version is called "aburi").
  • Shikasashi: sliced deer meat, a rare delicacy in certain parts of Japan.
  • Tataki: ei skipjack tuna or beef steak seared on the outside and sliced, or a finely chopped fish, spiced with the likes of chopped spring onions, ginger or garlic paste.

Soups (suimono and shirumono)

Soups include:

  • Miso soup: soup made with miso dissolved in dashi, usually containing two or three types of solid ingredients, such as seaweed, vegetables or tofu.
  • Tonjiru: similar to Miso soup, except that pork is added to the ingredients
  • Dangojiru: soup made with dumplings along with seaweed, tofu, lotus root, or any number of other vegetables and roots
  • Imoni: a thick taro potato stew popular in Northern Japan during the autumn season
  • Sumashijiru: a clear soup made with dashi and seafood
  • Zoni: soup containing mochi rice cakes along with various vegetables and often chicken

Pickled or salted foods

These foods are usually served in tiny portions, as a side dish to be eaten with white rice, to accompany sake or as a topping for rice porridges.

  • Ikura: salt cured salmon caviar.
  • Mentaiko: salt-cured pollock roe.
  • Shiokara: salty fermented viscera.
  • Tsukemono: pickled vegetables, hundreds of varieties and served with most rice-based meals.
    • Umeboshi: small, pickled ume fruit. Usually red and very sour, often served with bento lunch boxes or as a filling for onigiri.
  • Tsukudani: Very small fish, shellfish or seaweed stewed in sweetened soy for preservation.


  • Agedashi tofu: cubes of deep-fried silken tofu served in hot broth.
  • Bento or Obento: combination meal served in a wooden box, usually as a cold lunchbox.
  • Chawan mushi: meat (seafood and/or chicken) and vegetables boiled in egg custard.
  • Edamame: boiled and salted pods of soybeans, eaten as a snack, often to accompany beer.
  • Himono: dried fish, often aji (Japanese jack mackerel). Traditionally served for breakfast with rice, miso soup and pickles.
  • Hiyayakko: chilled tofu with garnish.
  • Natto: fermented soybeans, stringy like melted cheese, infamous for its strong smell and slippery texture. Often eaten for breakfast. Typically popular in Kantō and Tōhoku but hardly elsewhere.
  • Ohitashi: boiled greens such as spinach, chilled and flavoured with soy sauce, often with garnish.
  • Osechi: traditional foods eaten at New Year.
  • Sunomono: vegetables such as cucumber or wakame, or sometimes crab, marinated in rice vinegar.


Chinmi are regional delicacies, and include:

  • An kimo
  • Karasumi
  • Konowata
  • Uni: Specifically salt-pickled sea urchin

Although most Japanese eschew eating insects, in some regions, grasshoppers (inago) and bee larvae (hachinoko) are not uncommon dishes. The larvae of a species of caddis fly (zaza-mushi), harvested from the Tenryū river as it flows through Ina City, is also boiled and canned, or boiled and then sautéed in soy sauce and sugar. Salamander is eaten as well in places.

Regional Specialities

see Japanese regional cuisine

Dishes for special occasions

In Japanese tradition some dishes are strongly tied to a festival or event. Major such combinations include:

  • Botamochi (sticky rice dumpling with sweet azuki paste): Spring equinox.
  • Chimaki (steamed sweet rice cake): Tango no Sekku and Gion Festival.
  • Hamo (a kind of fish) and somen: Gion Festival.
  • Osechi: New Year.
  • Sekihan, literally "red rice", rice cooked with adzuki: celebration in general.
  • Soba: New Year's Eve. This is called toshi koshi soba (年越しそば) (literally "year crossing soba").
  • Chirashizushi, Ushiojiru (clear soup of clams) and amazake: Hinamatsuri.

In some regions every 1st and 15th day of the month people eat a mixture of rice and adzuki (azuki meshi, see Sekihan).

Sweets and snacks (okashi, oyatsu)

see also Category:Japanese desserts and sweets

Japanese-style sweets (wagashi)

Wagashi include

  • Amanatto
  • Anmitsu: a traditional Japanese dessert
  • Anpan: bread with sweet bean paste in the center
  • Dango: rice dumpling
  • Hanabiramochi
  • Higashi
  • Hoshigaki: Dried persimmon fruit
  • Imagawayaki: also known as 'Taikoyaki' is a round Taiyaki and fillings are same
  • Kakigori: shaved ice with syrup topping.
  • Kompeito: crystal sugar candy
  • Manju: sticky rice surrounding a sweet bean center
  • Matsunoyuki
  • Melonpan: a large, round bun which is a combination of regular dough beneath cookie dough, with a sweet filling in between. It often (but not always) contains a melon-flavored cream, and its general shape is said to resemble that of a melon.
  • Mochi: steamed sweet rice pounded into a solid, sticky, and somewhat translucent mass
  • Oshiruko: a warm, sweet red bean (an) soup with mochi: rice cake
  • Uiro: a steamed cake made of rice flour
  • Taiyaki: a fried, fish-shaped cake, usually with a sweet filling such as an: red bean paste

Old-fashioned Japanese-style sweets (dagashi)

  • Karumetou: Brown sugar cake. Also called Karumeyaki
  • Sosu Senbei: Thin wafers eaten with soy sauce

Western-style sweets (yōgashi)

Yōgashi are Western-style sweets, but in Japan are typically very light or spongy.

  • Kasutera: "Castella" Iberian-style sponge cake
  • Mirucurepu: "mille crepe": layered crepe

Other snacks

See also List of Japanese snacks and Category:Japanese snack food

Snacks include:

  • Azuki Ice: vanilla flavored ice cream with sweet azuki beans
  • Koara no māchi
  • Umai Bō Puffed corn food with various flavors
  • Pocky
  • Hello Panda
  • Hi-chew
  • Ice cream - usual flavours such as vanilla and chocolate are the most common. Distinctly Japanese ones include Matcha Ice (green tea ice cream), less common ones include Goma (black sesame seed) and sweet potato flavours.

Tea and other drinks

Barrels of sake, a traditional Japanese alcoholic drink

Tea and non-alcoholic beverages

Sea also Japanese green teas and Japanese drinks
  • Amazake
  • Genmaicha: green tea combined with roasted brown rice.
  • Hojicha: green tea roasted over charcoal.
  • Kombucha (tea): a tea poured with Kombu giving rich flavor in monosodium glutamate.
  • Matcha: powdered green tea.
  • Mugicha: barley tea, served chilled during summer.
  • Sencha: steam treated green tea leaves then dried.
  • Umecha: a tea drink with Umeboshi giving refreshing sourness.

Soft drinks

  • Calpis
  • Pocari Sweat
  • Ramune
  • Yakult

Alcoholic beverages

  • Awamori
  • Sake
  • Shochu
  • Umeshu
  • Japanese beer - leading brands are Sapporo, Asahi and Kirin

Imported and adapted foods

Japan has incorporated imported food from across the world (mostly from Asia, Europe and to a lesser extent the Americas), and have historically adapted many to make them their own.

Foods imported from Portugal in the 16th Century

  • Tempura - so thoroughly adopted that its foreign roots are unknown to most people, including many Japanese. As such, it is considered washoku.
  • castella - sponge cake, originating in Nagasaki
  • Pan (bread)


Japan today is abound with home-grown, loosely western-style food. Many of these were invented in the wake of the 1868 Meiji restoration and the end of national seclusion, when the sudden influx of foreign (in particular, western) culture led to many restaurants serving western food, known as yōshoku (洋食), a shortened form of seiyōshoku (西洋食) lit. Western cuisine, opening up in cities. Restaurants that serve these foods are called yōshokuya (洋食屋), lit. Western cuisine restaurants.

Many yōshoku items from that time have been adapted to a degree that they are now considered Japanese and are an integral part of any Japanese family menu. Many are served alongside rice and miso soup, and eaten with chopsticks. Yet, due to their origins these are still categorized as yōshoku as opposed to the more traditional washoku (和食), lit. Japanese cuisine.

  • Katsuretsu ("cutlet") - deep fried, breaded meat, usually served with shredded cabbage, sosu (Japanese worcester sauce) and lemon.
    • Tonkatsu - breaded pork
    • Menchi katsu - breaded minced meat patties
  • Furai ("fry") - deep fried, breaded seafood, usually served with shredded cabbage, sosu (Japanese worcester sauce) and lemon.
    • Kaki furai - breaded oyster
    • Ebi furai - breaded shrimp
  • Korokke - breaded mashed potato and minced meat patties.
  • Japanese curry-rice - imported in the 19th century by way of the United Kingdom and adapted by Japanese Navy chefs. One of the most popular food items in Japan today. Eaten with a spoon. Curry is often eaten with pickled vegetables called fukujinzuke or rakkyo
    • Curry bread - deep fried bread with Japanese curry sauce inside.
    • Curry udon
  • Hayashi rice - beef and onions stewed in a red-wine sauce and served on rice
  • Nikujaga - meat and potato stew. Has been Japanised to the extent that it is now considered washoku, but again originates from 19th Century Japanese Navy chefs adapting beef stews of the Royal Navy.
  • Omu raisu - ketchup-flavoured rice wrapped in omelette.

Other yōshoku items were popularised after the war:

  • Hamburg steak - a ground beef patty, usually mixed with breadcrumbs and fried chopped onions, served with a side of white rice and vegetables. Popular post-war food item served at homes. Eaten with a fork.
  • Spaghetti - Japanese versions include:
    • with tomato ketchup, weiners, sliced onion and green pepper (called 'neapolitan')
    • with mentaiko sauce topped with nori seaweed

Other homegrown cuisine of foreign origin

  • Japanese Chinese cuisine
    • Ramen and related dishes such as champon and yaki soba
    • Japanese-only "Chinese dishes" like Ebi Chili (shrimp in a tangy and slightly spicy sauce)
  • Yakiniku - Korean style barbecued meats, but eaten with a dipping sauce and rarely with lettuce as in Korean bulgogi.
  • Kimchi - a popular pickle in Japan, and tends to be thinner than Korean Kimchi.
  • Morioka Reimen - Invented in 1954 by a Korean immigrant as an adaptation of naengmyeon to Japanese tastes. Now a regional speciality of Morioka.

Foreign food in Japan

Many imported foods are made suitable for the Japanese palate by reducing the amount of spice used or changing a part of a recipe. For example, Japanese pizza may have toppings such as sliced boiled eggs, pineapple, sweetcorn, nori, and mayonnaise instead of tomato sauce. Shrimp, squid and other seafood excluded in the US is often retained in Japan, just as in other parts of the world.

Foods from other countries vary in their authenticity. Many Italian dishes are changed, however Japanese chefs have preserved many Italian seafood oriented dishes that are forgotten in other countries. These include pasta with prawns, lobster (an Italian specialty known in Italy as pasta arragosta), crab (another Italian specialty, in Japan is served with a different species of crab) and pasta with sea urchin sauce (the sea urchin pasta being a specialty of the Puglia region of Italy).

Japanese rice is usually used instead of indigenous rice (in dishes from Thailand, India, Italy, etc.) or including it in dishes when originally it would not be eaten with (in dishes like hamburger, steak, omelettes, etc.).

The Japanese often eat at hamburger chains such as McDonald's, First Kitchen, Lotteria or Mos Burger, a popular competitor. Other fast-food establishments are similarly popular. These include doughnut and ice cream shops. Okinawa has a chain of A&W drive-in restaurants featuring the company's root beer. The Japanese also alter American-style fast-food, serving such items as green-tea milkshakes, teriyaki beef burgers and fried shrimp burgers at chains like Lotteria.

In Tokyo, it is quite easy to find restaurants serving authentic foreign cuisine. However, in most of the country, in many ways, the variety of imported food is limited; for example, it is rare to find pasta that is not of the spaghetti or macaroni varieties in supermarkets or restaurants; bread is very rarely of any variety but white; and varieties of imported cereal are also very limited, usually either frosted or chocolate flavored. "Italian restaurants" also tend to only have pizza and pasta in their menus. Interestingly for Italian visitors, the cheaper Italian places in Japan tend to serve the American version of Italian foods, which often vary wildly from the version you might find in Italy or in other countries.

Fusion foods

  • California roll (not to mention the New Mexico and Philadelphia rolls)
  • Teppanyaki - a style of cooking beef, seafood and vegetables on a hotplate in front of customers, invented in Tokyo in 1945. Made famous in the United States by the Benihana chain which incorporated stunt-like performances to impress American customers.
  • Spam musubi - a snack from Hawaii resembling onigiri made with Spam.

Influence of Japanese food outside Japan

  • Japanese cuisine is an integral part of food culture in Hawaii. Popular items are sushi, sashimi and teriyaki. Kamaboko, known locally as fish cake, is a staple of saimin, a noodle soup invented in and extremely popular in the state.
  • Sushi, long regarded as quite exotic in the west until the 1970's, has become a popular health food in parts of North America, Western Europe and Asia.
  • South Korea:
    • Kamaboko is popular in South Korea, where it is known as eomuk (어묵), usually boiled on a skewer in broth and often sold in street restaurant carts where they can be eaten with soju.
    • Oden is popular in South Korea, where it is known as kkochi anju (꼬치按酒) or odeng.
  • Taiwan has adapted many Japanese food items.
    • Taiwanese versions of tempura, only barely resembling the original, is known as 天婦羅 or 甜不辣 (tianbula) and is a famous staple in night markets in northern Taiwan.
    • Taiwanese versions of oden is known locally as Oren (黑輪) or 關東煮 Kwantung stew, after the Kansai name for the dish.
  • Skewered versions of oden is also a common convenience store item in Shanghai where it is known as aódiǎn (熬点).
  • Ramen, of Chinese origin, has been exported back to China in recent years where it is known as ri shi la mian (日式拉面, "Japanese lamian"). Popular Japanese ramen chains serve ramen alongside distinctly Japanese dishes such as tempura and yakitori, something which would be seen as odd in Japan.
  • Ramen has also gained popularity in some western cities in part due to the success of the Wagamama chain, although they are quite different to Japanese ramen.
  • Instant ramen, invented in 1958, has now spread throughout the world, most of them barely resembling Japanese ramen.


  • Hosking, Richard (1995). A Dictionary of Japanese Food. Tuttle. ISBN 0-8048-2042-2. 
  • Kumakura, Isao (1999). "Table Manners Then and Now". Japan Echo 27 (1).
  • Tsuji, Shizuo (1980). Japanese cooking: A simple Art. New York: Kodansha International/USA. 
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